April 26, 2017

“Before Growth Mindset…”

Before we get ahead of ourselves with the ‘mindset craze’, we must acknowledge something much more basic and primitive: a sense of safety.  We must feel safe to make mistakes, safe to feel vulnerable in front of someone, safe to express what I am feeling even if it doesn’t seem to agree with what you are saying.  This sense of safety is the absolute first and foremost condition that we must establish before anything else can happen.

In fact, when a person does not feel safe in the environment in which they find themselves, their most evolved nervous system architecture, which includes their ability to vocalize their thoughts and tense their middle ear in order to focus on the frequency of a human voice – diminishes.  (This is related to the Polyvagal Theory by Stephen Porges).

When a person does not get a consistent ‘doseage’ of safety, they are losing ‘muscle tone’ for a part of our system that helps us use our prefrontal cortex and hippocampus – both critical in learning and remembering what we learn.

Without a sense of safety, the human brain cannot access its most evolved capacities that lead to the following:

growth mindset
impulse control
effort & perseverance
innovation & creativity

 So how do we ‘create safety’? …Read more…

Forget the Growth Mindset (for a Moment): Time to Unravel the Fixed Mindset

Featured article on BAM Education Radio EdWords Blog

Enthusiasm is building about ‘growth mindset’ and how it helps students persevere and stay open to new challenges.  In line with this, understanding the ‘fixed mindset’ can also help us find new ways to help students push through their fears of failure and inadequacy.

What’s a fixed mindset?

A person with a fixed mindset believes that ability and intelligence are things we’re born with or not, and there’s not much we can do to change the ‘fixed amount’ we are born with.

Why should you care?

Research shows that fixed mindsets hold people back from persevering and trying new and challenging things that will help their brain grow.

What can you do?

Before we get into what to do about, lets look at how a fixed mindset happens in the first place.

 Read more…




Disgust Reactions to Trustees and Dictators Modulate Punishment Decisions in Economic Games

Lasana Harris1 , Christine Hosey2 , Stefanie Molicki1 , Ernst Fehr3 , Elizabeth Phelps1,4

Department of Psychology, New York University1 ; Booth School of Business, University of Chicago2 ; Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich3 ; Center for Neural Science, New York University4 .

Abstract: Previous research demonstrates that in the context of the trust game, punishment decisions are modulated by the perceived responsibility of the trustee for the norm violating behavior and the cost of punishment (de Quervain et al, 2004). We extend these results, showing that the perceived responsibility of the violator for their lot in life as well as the affect, specifically disgust, generated by all parties in the social interaction modulate punishment decisions. We recorded physiological responses across separate samples in the context of second party (trust game) and third party (dictator game) punishment while participants observe fictitious players make fair or unfair decisions before themselves deciding punishment for these social targets. In addition to punishing disgust-inducing social targets more severely in both games, participants in the trust game also punish trustees responsible for their negative life-situation more harshly when trust is violated. Also in the trust game, physiological disgust predicts punishment toward violators that elicit disgust versus another negative emotion. In the dictator game, physiological disgust responses predict punishment amounts when a dictator that elicits disgust behaves unfairly toward a recipient that does not. These findings dovetail with the existing literature, and add to the growing corpus of research on social and affective factors that affect decision-making in economic games. Further research will explore whether the neural mechanisms underlying these decisions diverge.

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Dynamic Core Theory and Neural Darwinism

Cognitive Neuroscience Graduate Course paper (NYU), December 2008

Excerpt: Explaining consciousness has become a key area of research and debate in the world of neuroscience.   The underlying concept behind Gerald Edelman’s Dynamic Core Theory on consciousness is based on a dynamic cluster of neuronal groups in the thalamocortical region that interact with each other across various areas in the brain (Tononi & Edelman, 1998).   This theory is linked with Edelman’s theory of neural Darwinism, which emphasizes the selectionist nature of brain development rather than the instructionist computer analogy of the brain (Edelman, 2004).  While it is difficult to know for sure which theory of consciousness, if any, will stand the test of time, Edelman’s is an important contender among explanations of consciousness.  Moreover, an important contribution associated with this theory is the possibility to quantitatively measure certain aspects of consciousness, which Edelman and Tononi (1998) suggest by using certain formulas to calculate integration and differentiation of neural processes.

Dynamic Core Theory and Neural Darwinism



Stereotype Content, Disgust & Moral  Decision Making: Evidence from  Social & Affective Neuroscience

Inclusive Leadership, Stereotyping & the Brain  Columbia University, Business School, September, 2009


Neuroeconomics Inclusive Leadership


Mirror Neurons & the Sensory-Motor Framework

Affective Neuroscience Graduate Course paper (NYU), May 2009

Excerpt: Perhaps just as important as how that process works or what that process consists of, is how imitation – and therefore the potential of mirror neurons – has implications in real world settings.   As Rizzolatti and Arbib postulate, mirror neurons may “represent the link between sender and receiver” (p. 188) that allows for the receiver to “understand” the action, utilizing this “understanding” to formulate an appropriate response to the performed action. (Wolf et al., 2001, p. 97).   Mirror neurons appear to code facial action and gestures, particularly with the mouth, suggesting that they are important for emotional attunement of other people (Iacobini, p. 662, Cozolino, p. 186).   As Rizzolatti and Arbib state, “Our emotional understanding of these gestures allows us to distinguish various social cues and may have links to primitive communiction, allowing one person to detect, for example when another person is feeling peaceful or agitated”(1998).

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2011 Legislative Briefing Book:  Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy UNLV

School of Community Health Sciences


Early Childhood Report